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How to (Actually) Network: Research Meetings

Welcome back to our series on how to network. Today I’ll be detailing the other kind of networking meeting you can have: research meetings. 

Research meetings occur in your networking journey when you are seeking information about a specific job, industry, or profession. These types of meetings are ideal if you’re a recent college graduate deciding which career direction you want to pursue or if you’ve decided to change careers and need more information before (and while) you take the plunge. 

This form of networking allows you to decide how well your skills, interests, needs, and experience match a potential profession. Though, of course, you can discover a lot of these answers by researching, you will gain deeper insight by talking to someone currently in the field. 

The first step of this networking process is setting up a meeting. If you’ve been actively networking for a while, you should have some names of industry professionals you can reach out to. For more guidance on how to do that, check out my blog on laying the groundwork for a network

Now, let’s go over what to do before, during, and after a research meeting.

Before:

  • Research the company, profession, and the person you’ll be meeting with.
  • Make a list of specific questions to ask.
  • Practice your elevator pitch.
  • Bring copies of all your marketing materials: your resume, business card, network/target companies list, and notes based on your prior research.

During:

  • State that you are seeking information to help you make a career decision and are not looking for a job. Open with a statement such as:
    • “I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me.”
    • “I am here to ask you for general information in the field of…”
    • “I am not here to ask you for a job.”
    • “As I mentioned before this meeting, I am considering a career change, and I value your advice.”
  • Review your accomplishments and experience to confirm if you have the right fit for the industry.
  • Ask your questions and listen carefully to the answers.
  • When the person you’re meeting with mentions other people, inquire if you can contact them using their name as a referral. 
  • Share relevant information you gathered through your research.
  • Pay close attention to anything the person tells you that is confidential. Respect that confidentiality and ask for clarification if you suspect something should be treated with discretion.
  • Confirm anything you may have agreed to do for the person you’re meeting with.

After:

  • Send a thank-you email or note outlining your activities and plans based on the information you gained.
  • Incorporate the information you learned into your research files on target companies and your network list. 
  • Keep in contact with the person for future help and information.

And that’s how to conduct a research meeting. As I’ve mentioned before, Don’t Dread Monday offers a self-paced job search program if you need extra support as you network. We are always open and ready for any comments or questions, either through our website or by phone at 800.680.7768.

Until next time.

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